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Charles Manson OK, so what do the following three forms of entertainment have in common? (1) Scientology. (2) The Beatles 'White Album'. And (3) The director, Roman Polanski. No. It doesn't have anything to do with the Jackie Chan movie 'Rush Hour 3'. In one way or another they're all somehow connected to the murderer depicted in this one hour documentary produced in 2012.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

In this episode of 'Born to Kill?', narrator, Christopher Slade, chronicles the warped life and times of mannered murderer, Charles Manson. Now to aide Christopher with his oration, on display are a select number of video-clips, archived photography, audio inserts, as well as one on one interview's with people familiar with 'Manson Family' murder spree. For example, there's the Author: Simon Wells; Physiologist: Joel Fort; Police Officers: Robert Burbidge, Mike McGann and Frank Salerno; Prosecutor: Vincent Bugliosi; Criminologists: Louis Schlesinger, Dr. David Smith, and Sandra Gibson; plus Acquaintances: Barbra Hoyt and Philip Kaufman.

What now follows is a basic break-down of how this program plays out:

  • Who is Charles Manson?   Charles Milles Manson was born on the 12th of November, 1934, to an unmarried 16-year old girl called Kathleen Maddox. Allegedly his biological farther was a black chief called 'Colonel Scott', although Kathleen had alluded to her eventual husband -- labourer, William Mason -- that it was a 'Colonel Walker Scott' from Kentucky.
  • What was his early life like?   Well, not too good if truth be told. After his mother became an alcoholic and was sent to prison for robbing a service station, Charles spent the majority of his life either in a 'boys home' or in prison, due to the fact that he himself started robbing and fighting on the streets. Also, whilst at the aforementioned 'place of care', Charles stated that he had been molested too.  
  • Did Charles ever try to change his life around?   Yes. For a short while in 1955, he married a hospital waitress named Rosalie Jean Willis, until he was arrested again for stealing a car and pimping whilst his wife was pregnant. She divorced Charles when he was incarcerated. 
  • What were Charles major crimes?   When he was released from prison in 1967, Charles became a guru in San Francisco, predicting that an impending race war was looming after hearing some of the songs on the Beatles 'White Album' (most notably 'Helter Skelter'). Now this led him to form a coalition of like-minded people that would commence a killing spree, so they could then blame this ghastly act on a Negro uprising.   
  • Who were some of Mason's accomplices?
    • Mary Theresa Brunner -- born the 17th of December, 1943
    • Charles Denton Watson  -- born the 2nd of December, 1945
    • Patricia Dianne Krenwinkel -- born the 3rd of December 3, 1947 
    • Robert Kenneth "Bobby" Beausoleil -- born the 6th of November, 1947 
    • Susan Denise Atkins -- born the 7th of May, 1948
    • Lynette Alice Fromme -- born the 22nd of October, 1948 
    • Leslie Louise Van Houten -- born the 23rd of August 23, 1949
    • Linda Kasabian -- born the 21st of June, 1949 
    • Steve Dennis Grogan -- born the 24th of May 24, 1952
  • Who were their known victims?
    • June 25th, 1969: Gary Hinman -- a drug dealer stabbed to death in his own home.
    • August 8th, 1969: Roman Polanski's pregnant actress wife, Sharon Tate. Hairstylist, Jay Sebring. Screenwriter, Wojciech Frykowski. Frykowski's lover, Abigail Folger. And Steven Earl Parent -- all of them brutalized to death in and around Polanski's mansion.
    • August 9th, 1969: Supermarket executive, Leno LaBianca, and his wife, Rosemary, who owned a dress shop -- killed in a similar manner as Masons previous victims.
  • How did Masons 'convert' his accomplices?   Firstly, he chose likeminded individuals who had a similar chequered-history he had. Secondly, he'd ply them with drugs, and persuaded them to see things as he did with bold bravado and unified rhetoric. And thirdly, once they were eventually in his control, he'd fire them at his intended target -- no holds barred.     
  • How were they caught?   Sometime after this series of brutal murderers were committed, one of Manson's free-spirited followers, Susan Atkins, inadvertently spilt the beans whilst she was in prison, resulting in the 'Manson Family' being caught and sent to prison for life.  

Boy-oh-boy-oh-boy! I don't know if I can do this or not. I don't know if I have the words within me to surmise what I feel about what I saw on 'Born To Kill? Charles Manson'.

Now please don't get me wrong dear reader, this doesn't have anything to do with the documentary itself. As always this 'real-life crime program' is just engrossing to watch through and through. Rather, my dilemma is associated with its contents, and if I am able to understand why 'Charlie and his crazy comrades' killed those poor people because... because... because... err... see what I mean?

Helter Skelter Sharon Tate The Manson Family

Well, to a degree, I suppose I can understand the feeling of 'hate', plus how this brash emotion can make you do some strange things if it isn't kept in check properly. Also, I can understand how a 'bad upbringing' can warp your perception at times, making your outlook less optimistic than the norm. However, what I don't get is why the 'Manson Family' just did whatever Charlie told them to do -- even kill! And why the hell Charlie wanted to get back at 'those people' who he thought did him wrong, by ordering such a dreadful series of acts against people who didn't!

If I don't like you -- I say that I don't like you. If I know that something I'm doing is wrong -- I don't do it. And no matter how persuasive a person might be, I never just take their word at face value -- no matter who it is.

Charles Manson Over Time

Alright, so on a certain level you can say that drugs addled all of their brains somewhat. Fair enough. And I suppose on another level you can say that a need for some direction to their lives curbed their awareness as well. But murder for the sake of hatred and malice? No. I don't buy it myself. No matter how mixed up and deluded a person is -- unless they are completely cuckoo -- I will never understand why one person will butcher someone else for the sake of tokenary.

Barbra Hoyt
Personally speaking, the two people in 'Born To Kill? Charles Manson', who knew these killers the best, defined what Charlie and his followers were really all about. Barbara Hoyt stated that Manson saw himself as a mixture of 'The Devil and Jesus' -- which basically sums him up to a tea. Whilst Philip Kaufman told a very poignant tale as to why he distanced himself from the 'Mansions Family's' actions -- he could still think for himself during this period. Moreover, whilst doing my own research about this documentary, I came across a YouTube clip which I also think is well worth the watch to comprehend what made these b*stards do what they did. Here, check this out...

Now I can't top that now, can I? Nuff said dear reader. Nuff said.


BORN TO KILL? CHARLES MANSON BORN TO KILL? CHARLES MANSON Reviewed by David Andrews on October 17, 2012 Rating: 5
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